Mattix, longtime Whig reporter, to retire
Will continue to write weekly column
— For many in Cecil County, the name Cheryl Mattix is synonymous with the Cecil Whig newspaper.
That’s why after almost 32 years of dedication, her decision to set down her notepad and pen and retire from full-time work at the county’s paper of record at the end of the year was not
an easy one to make.
“It was very hard in the end,” Mattix said Thursday. “I’ve been thinking about it for a couple years now, but it never felt right. I just felt it was time to let a younger generation take over and enjoy time with my children and grandchildren while I’m still able.”
Before readers grow too worried, however, she won’t be disappearing entirely from the Whig’s pages.
Mattix, 71, will continue to write her popular weekly business column “Mattix on Matters” for as long as she pleases, said Jacob Owens, the Whig’s managing editor. She will also tackle some stories on a freelance basis into the new year and beyond, while a full-time replacement for county government and business reporting will be introduced in January.
“Cheryl is an institution to the Whig, its readers and really this county,” said Owens, who’s worked with Mattix since 2009. “While we would love to see her at
her desk every day, we realize that she has a family and life to lead outside our walls. We wish her all the happiness in whatever pursuits she undertakes.”
Mattix has served as the Whig’s lead county reporter for more than 15 years and in a number of other roles over her tenure, including editor of the former Cecil and Harford Business Ledgers. She joined the Whig in 1985, when it was still a weekly and all reporters used manual typewriters, and has stayed through its transition to an around-the-clock operation that posts online first.
“I can still remember having to describe to readers what the internet was,” she said. “Now it’s just an accepted part of life.”
Mattix grew up in Hobart, Ind., a small town near Gary, Ind., not unlike many found in Cecil County.
As the daughter of a single mother following the unexpected passing of her father when she was young, Mattix said she watched as her mother went back to school to get a clerical job The very first “Mattix on Matters” column appeared in the Aug. 18, 2003, Cecil Whig, more than 13 years ago.
at the local mill.
“I definitely developed a bit of my mother’s work ethic growing up,” she said.
Mattix always knew that she wanted to be a reporter, though she can’t exactly remember if there was a particular reason why.
“People would always tell me that I asked a lot of questions when I was growing up,” she said. “When I was a little girl, our local newspaper ran a cartoon called ‘Brenda Starr, Reporter,’ which my dad would read to me every week. That might
have had something to do with it. I was entranced with all of the adventures she would get into.”
Whatever the reason, Mattix actively pursued her passion in journalism in high school, where she became editor of the school paper. After 18 months of searching for adventure after graduation, she found herself pursuing her passion again, this time at Indiana University, where she wrote for the university’s Indiana Daily Student.
After college Mattix got
married, traveled with her husband after he was drafted into the U.S. Army, taught English and even helped her husband run several sporting goods stores when they returned to Indiana. She went on to have three sons and earn an Indiana real estate broker license.
In the early 1980s, Mattix’s ex-husband’s job was transferred to the Cecil County area and she and the kids came with him.
“I was kind of a fish-out-ofwater; I did some substitute teaching in Cecil County public schools,” she said. “I decided to come check out the local Cecil Whig newspaper one day and give them my resume. My confidence was low as I hadn’t written anything in a number of years, but publisher Tom Bradlee came right out and greeted me. When he found out that I was from Indiana, he introduced me to fellow Hoosier (former Whig editor) Don Herring. It was nice.”
While she wasn’t hired immediately, a few months later Bradlee offered her a job to report on the Elkton town board and the county school board. She accepted March 27, 1985. Within three years, Mattix began covering county politics and
started a well-received business page with a weekly mortgage chart.
In 1992, in an effort to stay competitive with Harford County newspapers, Bradlee promoted Mattix to editor of the new monthly Cecil Business Ledger.
“He gave me a four-month window to build a product from nothing, so it was a lot of learning on the fly. Tom’s famous last words were, ‘You’ll be fine,’” she said. “I remember taking notes from other magazines while sitting in O’Hare airport on a trip home. I created a “Man of the Street” feature and a Q&A with a business leader. I also created a front page feature that jumped to the center spread.”
Mattix led the Cecil Busines Ledger until 1998, when Bradlee sent her to take over the newly-purchased Harford Business Ledger — the very publication that the CBL once competed against.
“I learned a lot about Harford County and met some great people as we did that product,” she said.
By 2001 though, the Whig brought Mattix back to report on county news, which she has done for the past 15 years. For nearly seven years in the early 2000s, she also spent the legislative
session embedded with local lawmakers in Annapolis, filing stories from the state capital. It was 13 years ago in August 2003 that she also filed her first “Mattix on Matters” column, which continues to be popular today.
She said that it is hard to believe how far journalism has come over the past three decades, with typewriters overtaken by computers and X-Acto blades replaced by InDesign to design the printed product.
“If somebody told me 30 years ago that we could send pictures to our editors using a phone or submit our articles from a computer at our home, I probably would have laughed,” she said. “It’s amazing to see the Whig where it is today. It keeps on truckin’, celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.”
Mattix isn’t worried about the state of journalism either as she begins to wind down a decades-long career.
“Obviously there will always be a need for real news, especially as people come to rely more and more upon social media and sound bites for information,” she said. “Newspapers were here long before me, and I think they’ll be here long after.”
After nearly 32 years of service to the Cecil Whig, reporter Cheryl Mattix will retire from full-time work, but will continue writing her weekly column.
Leeds Elementary School students sing during a performance at Sunny Acres Assisted Living Facility.